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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Valve / Electronic Arts

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

October 9, 2007

 

 

- Five great games. One price. The best bargain in gaming today.

- If you haven’t experienced the magnificent Half-Life 2 before, this is the perfect introduction to Gordon Freeman’s adventures

 

 

- Unexpected loading times interrupt gameplay

- After reaching Episode 2’s cliffhanger finale, gamers will sadly realize they’ll have to wait until an undetermined time to get Episode Three and complete Half-Life 2’s story

 

 

Review: Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (PC)

Review: Portal (PC)

Review: Halo 3 (360)

 

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The Orange Box

Score: 10 / 10

 

Christmas indeed came early for Xbox 360 owners with The Orange Box, Electronic Arts/Valve Software’s compilation of all things Half-Life 2. Not only does The Orange Box have a next-gen Half-Life 2 offering, there are the first two episodes of the planned trilogy, too. It doesn’t stop there, though. Also squeezed into The Orange Box is a new and uniquely challenging FPS-puzzler, Portal, along with the excellent online-only Team Fortress 2. Generosity amongst gaming publishers never reaches this level. That’s five superlative titles (even if two are rather short episodic additions to the Half-Life 2 story) for one price. And yes, the box is indeed orange.

 

orange box          orange box

Half-Life 2 (left); Portal (right)

 

After playing The Orange Box, I can’t believe I hadn’t given Half-Life 2 and the story of one Gordon Freeman – hero of the bleak, apocalyptic alien-infested earth’s future, battling monstrosities both small and large – a try before now. Half-Life 2 truly is an epic gaming adventure, deserving of all the praise heaped upon it.

 

Half-Life 2 is much more than the typical FPS fare, requiring much more Rodin-esque thinking and analytical puzzle-solving than ever found in a FPS –

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especially when compared to the “shoot everything that moves, then think, maybe.” gameplay found in Halo 3.

 

Broken down in basic terms, Half-Life 2 and its two episodes must be tackled using a strategic approach: observe your surroundings, then determine the solution necessary to solve each puzzle you’ll face and

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act accordingly (sometimes while being pursued by slobbering things). The three Half-Life 2 titles collectively found in The Orange Box are a challenge for any gamer, where it’s mind-power over matter, literally, throughout.

 

The only small negatives are some unexpected load times that pop up and interrupt the action during Half-Life 2 gaming and the fact that gamers will have to wait until Episode Three is released sometime in the future to complete the Half-Life 2 trilogy.

 

Then we have the two non-Half Life 2 titles to consider: Portal and Team Fortress 2. Portal is an amazing new game that has created a new genre: the FPS-puzzler. Using the portal gun, gamers must open portals from one room to another in a mouse-in-the-maze experiment. But it’s not that simple. Gamers need to open the correct portal while avoiding pifalls and solve puzzles that open up other rooms to visit with yet another puzzle to figure out. By far the hardest task in The Orange Box is solving the many mysteries of Portal.

 

orange box           orange box

Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (left); Team Fortress 2 (right)

 

And finally, the cherry on the top of The Orange Box is Team Fortress 2. Never having played Team Fortress before, I was expecting an online multiplayer FPS similar to Halo 3. Instead, the object in Team Fortress 2 is not to shoot everything in sight (although there’s plenty of shooting and kills to accumulate) but rather work in the role of one of a respective team’s members (spy, scout, engineer, medic, heavy, sniper, solider, pyro and demoman) as a team together, with each member bringing his respective skills to play in point-capture gameplay.

 

Succulent and juicy sweet gaming goodness – The Orange Box is waiting to be unpeeled. EA/Valve could have easily sold Half-Life 2 along with Episode One and Two as one game and Portal and Team Fortress 2 as another. But instead, gamers have them all together, and with all five titles excellent unto themselves, having them bundled for one price is an unbelievably spectacular bargain that every Xbox 360 owner should take advantage of.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(November 6, 2007)

 

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